Dressing Downton™ — A Special Exhibition at The Lightner Museum
What a special treat hubby and I had while visiting St. Augustine, Florida as part of our 30th wedding anniversary celebration. Touring The Lightner Museum was on our to-do list, but when I found out about a unique exhibit in progress I became super-excited. Fans of the wildly popular television series Downton Abbey® would have been doing the happy dance with me. For those unaware, the TV show was a British period drama, transporting viewers to post-Edwardian England. The television series has won numerous prestigious awards and has also been recognized for its remarkable costume design.
The exhibition at The Lightner Museum was entitled Dressing Downton™: Changing Fashion for Changing Times. It was as if the beloved PBS Masterpiece drama, which ended its 6th season last year, came to America. I was immersed in the fascinating social history and culture of a bygone era. The exhibit perfectly captured some of the most memorable moments from the show’s six-season run.
The Lightner Museum Re-Creates Scenes from Downton Abbey®
Themes in the Dressing Downton™ exhibition included the evolution of fashion, high society etiquette, and the changing roles of women. The re-creations of sets were absolutely amazing! The Lightner Museum did an extraordinary job of integrating 40+ costumes into various elegant rooms, made to look like the Crawley family’s classic Georgian country house. I felt as if I’d just arrived for a visit, dinner party, or high tea at Highclere Castle. One of the docents at The Lightner Museum told me they had brought out some very special art and furnishings from the Museum’s archives specifically for this outstanding exhibition. 60,000-80,000 Florida residents and visitors to Saint Augustine were fortunate to view such rarities!
Downton Abbey® — The Progression of Style from 1912 to 1920
Each vignette contained a display panel with a photo of the corresponding costume and scene from the show, along with interesting details about the design. The panel also included little tidbits about royal life in the early 1900s. The Downton Abbey® exhibit explored fashions in Britain between 1912, the year the Titanic sank, and the early 1920s, the dawn of the Jazz Age. Just as portrayed in the television series, this time period saw notable changes in people’s lives and in the way they dressed, particularly because of the impact of World War 1 (1914-1918).
The exhibition showed the period costumes in historical context. Dressing Downton™ was all about the progression of style in Britain — from the cumbersome corsets and bustles of the Dowager Countess to the liberating fashion choices of Lady Sybil. Men’s fashion went from white tie and formal tails to a much more relaxed short dinner jacket with black tie. Costumes on display ranged from country tweeds, to servants’ uniforms, to lavish gowns and evening attire. There was a costume for every activity and every time of day!
Dressing Downton™: Changing Fashion for Changing Times — Photo Tour
Please enjoy the photo tour of Dressing Downton™: Changing Fashion for Changing Times — may it transport you 100 years back in time, when “flapper pudding” was the creamy dessert of the day, and it was proper to wear gloves or tip your hat. Kudos to The Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida for creating such an incredible fully immersive experience… one Lord Grantham himself would be proud of!
Downton Abbey® — The U. S. Tour Continues
If you missed the Dressing Downton™: Changing Fashion for Changing Times exhibition at The Lightner Museum in Saint Augustine, Florida (extended through 2/4/18), you may have been given a second chance. Another traveling exhibit has begun. It kicked off in New York City where the limited-time engagement has been extended until April 2, 2018, due to popular demand. Additional dates and locations for this multi-city tour will be announced.
This tour is simply called Downton Abbey®: The Exhibition. It launched internationally in Singapore last summer, and included some previously unseen footage from the mega-hit TV series.
Here’s the official press release…
“Visitors will be transported on an incredible journey through the grand home of Downton Abbey as the exhibition peers into the world of the Crawleys and those that served them below stairs.
From Mrs. Patmore’s hectic kitchen and the gossip-fuelled servants’ quarters, to the family’s glamorous dining room and Lady Mary’s bedroom, fans will get the chance to walk through some of the series’ most recognizable and beloved sets. Visitors will even come up-close to over 50 of the show’s official costumes worn by their favorite actors including Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville and Dame Maggie Smith!”
Ticket prices range from $30 adult to $15 children’s tickets. Ticket purchases or more information can be found at the official Downton Exhibition website here. For an extra-special occasion, private parties can also be booked, which re-create an Edwardian dinner in the Crawleys’ dining room. Wow, what a memorable experience that would be! American fans of this global phenomenon were hoping for an official announcement of the rumored feature film adaptation, but until then, you can satisfy your Crawley-craving by visiting Downton Abbey®: The Exhibition. Here’s hoping it comes to a city near you!
Have you seen the Dressing Downton™ exhibit while in the Sunshine State? Is this an exhibition you’d like to see? Please reply in the “comment” box below!